A job half done

  • Left alliance could have been a little more imaginative in selection of chief ministers

Feb 12, 2018-

The left alliance and the Madhesi parties have now managed to select chief ministers in all seven states. The selection of candidates by the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre could have been better in terms of inclusion of marginalised groups. Four of the six left alliance candidates come from the hill high castes. Exceptions are Province 1 and 4, where Sher Dhan Rai and Prithvi Subba Gurung, have been nominated. None of the chief ministers who have been selected is a woman. This is especially striking, given that the constitution pays much attention to the inclusion of women.

This is an unfortunate scenario. The idea of federalism in Nepal arose due to demands for the inclusion of marginalised groups. It is particularly galling that the left alliance did not choose a Tharu candidate in either Provinces 5 or 7. The Tharu community already has grievances because their community has been split between states. But both the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre have decided to continue the traditional political dominance. The Maoists in particular should face opprobrium as they came to power in claiming that they would champion the marginalised.

Meanwhile, the Madhesi parties have selected a far more suitable candidate as the chief minister of Province 2. In terms of inclusion, there could not have been a better candidate than Mohammad Lal Babu Raut. Not only does Raut come from the Madhesi community, which is dominant in State 2, he is also a Muslim, and thus a member of one of Nepal’s most marginalised groups. In addition, he has long been a committed advocate of Madhesi concerns and is deeply rooted in the province. Trained as a lawyer, he has been an academic for over twenty years. This means that he has both the experience of active politics, as well as a broader knowledge that should serve him well in his new position.

The left alliance should reflect on their decisions and see whether they can make any political adjustment so that the state governments are more inclusive. Towards that end, they need to make a special effort to nominate women and members of other marginalised groups to other senior positions, such as those of speaker and ministers in the states. A failure to do so would indicate that, despite the promises in the new constitution, the parties have no intention of changing the existing power structure.

Published: 12-02-2018 08:02

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